Happy In Bag

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Run the Road

My review of the Run the Road CD for Punknews.com follows.
Grime, the new hip-hop mutation out of London, isn't just the sound of today. It very well may be the sound of the next decade.

Many people will recoil from grime's cold, threatening vibe. But those who dismiss grime will be missing a revolutionary step on the ladder of popular music's evolution. Even if the grime artists contained on the stunning Run the Road compilation don't break out, stars like Missy Elliott and Gwen Stefani will modify the style for their next releases.

Most of the ruthless recordings on Run the Road seem as if they were made in a post-apocalyptic underground bunker. They sound like a mash-up of Bring the Noise, Joy Division and Lee "Scratch" Perry compressed into cell phone ring tones. Like American hip-hop, grime is filled with violent images of guns and gore. But the frigid musical tone allows the music to address matters beyond the immediate subject matter. For instance, even as Jammer berates an adversary, the music seems to be making a global commentary about end times. It's the ideal soundtrack for a tense, bomb-weary London.

This is the sound of danger in 2005.

Among the many highlights is Demon's toxically radiated version of Newcleus on I Won't Change. Kano, Dizzee Rascal and Durty Goodz, in a trait common to grime, sound like a British version of hip hop speedsters like Twista and Tech N9ne. Riko and Target's Chosen One, with its threatening take on Jamaican dancehall, is a musical wormhole into the future. Mic Fight, by Kano, is the song most likely find an audience at American hip hop stations. The theme of an MC fight escalating into violence is a familiar theme, and the frosty Asian backing track is infectious.

It's not all perfect. Shystie's One Wish is what R Kelly would likely come up with as a grime producer. The absurd commercialism of Cap Back, by Wonder & Plan B, sounds like an exaggerated P. Diddy. Lady Sovereign's Cha Ching is beyond irritating. Imagine Hello Kitty as a crack addict and you're halfway there. The version of the Street's Fit But You Know It is a vastly reworked remix. It's stripped of everything that made the original hilarious and fun. Levity, along with sexiness, is in short supply here.

And that grim vision may limit grime's potential. It's all tension and no release. Let's hope our future is filled with sunshine and peace. But for now, Run the Road defines our times.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Graciella Kowalczyk

I thought that Chopin was sissy stuff. Graciella Kowalczyk obliterated that misconception with a physical piano recital Friday night. The Kansas City-based European employed a vast dynamic range to wring every possible nuance out of Fryderyk Chopin’s works.

Startlingly pretty, with endless brunette hair, Kowalcyk is an animated performer, fluttering her eyes and contorting her body in thrall to the beauty her fingers are generating. Attentive listeners were able to hear Kowalcyk reveal ancient truths and divine wisdom.

The performance, on the fifth floor of the Central Library downtown, was part of The Fringe Festival. The large building also hosted an organ jazz combo, storytellers, visual arts displays and a percussion ensemble Friday night. None of these offerings could truly be considered "fringe," but all were free. Even so, festival volunteers and library staff may have outnumbered arts enthusiasts.

(I failed to take an adequate photo of Kowalczyk, so this shot of the excellent exterior of the library’s parking garage will have to suffice.)

Friday, July 29, 2005


My review of the new Lucero CD for Punknews.com follows. Kansas City-area fans of the loud twang sound should also know that Pendergast is performing in August Mondays at Blayneys and Tuesdays at Mike's Tavern. As with the featured Lucero release, Pendergast's The Truth About Saturday Night is very good.

The four guys in Lucero are smart. They realized from the get-go that America is drowning in a sea of post-Uncle Tupelo alt-country acts. So rather than directly compete with those bands, these Memphis boys focused on building their audience by playing on punk and indie-rock bills.

Kids who don’t know Steve Earle from Merle Haggard heard a fresh sound. And playing before unsuspecting audiences undoubtedly made the boys tough.

Now, with a big-time producer, major label money, and five years of maturation, Lucero comes into their own on their fourth CD. And just who are they? Well, they’re close kin to The Drive By Truckers and The Bottle Rockets. In fact, the Southern accents of Nobody’s Darlings are more emotionally direct than the Truckers. And Bottle Rockets fans have been hoping for a new release this great for a decade.

Based on the dueling guitars blueprint perfected by the Rolling Stones, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and of course, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Nobody’s Darlings does this legacy proud. A few songs, like Anjalee, are as solid as hits by The Kings of Leon and the Black Crowes. Sixteen is an obvious tribute to The Replacement’s Sixteen Blue. Nobody’s Darling producer Bruce Dickinson oversaw The Replacement’s Pleased To Meet Me, and it’s clear that Lucero went to school on both it and Let It Be. Dickinson’s production is simultaneously nasty and clean; something the band’s previously releases lacked. Even Bikeriders, a stab at Epitaph-style punk, is haunted by Free Bird's ghost.

At certain moments, Nobody’s Darlings sounds like the world’s best rock band playing to fifteen drunks at a dingy club in Arkansas. It’s well after midnight, and although their set could have ended an hour ago, they’re still playing for that one lost soul stumbling through the room who knows, just like they do, that his life depends on reaching that next chorus.

There’s not a single thing on Nobody’s Darling that hasn’t been done before. But that doesn’t make it any less honest or affecting. It’s a near classic companion on exuberant Saturday nights and shaky Sunday mornings.

The indie kids who embraced the band years ago will be startled when Lucero finds its natural audience, the NASCAR cap and Ford truck crowd. Let’s hope both sides understand that Lucero’s worth sharing.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Leawood Lunker

Kansas City gets a bad rap for its weather. It's not always insufferable. Yesterday was perfect- a high of 78, a cool breeze and a warm sun.

Leawood has a string of pretty ponds with plentiful panfish and catfish. It was a satisfying way to spend a gorgeous Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


There's almost no foot traffic in the West Bottoms area where I sometimes work. Tenants don't dawdle between their buildings and their cars, the dumpsters lack edible food, and off-duty police on motorcycles guard the contents of train boxcars.

It's a bleak industrial district.

So I was oddly encouraged when I recently bumped into a scavenger removing scrap metal from behind my building. It's surprising that he found something worth taking.

The copper pipes this guy "liberated" wholesale for about a dollar a pound. So his haul will, at best, net him half that, maybe $15.00 if he's lucky. While that's a tough way to survive, it's preferable to toiling in another of the block's illegal activities. Under the same overpass, it's not uncommon to witness the world's oldest profession at work. And, trust me, it's not pretty.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Terrance Simien

When he released There's Room For Us All in 1993, I was certain that Terrance Simien was destined to become a roots music stalwart, filling clubs and headlining festivals worldwide. It never happened.

Simien's free performance Sunday night at City Market mirrored his confounding struggle to find an audience. He played a joyous set of American music. Yet only a couple hundred people bothered to show up.

By my count, Simien has issued eight releases on six different record labels. Such inconsistency is rarely a good sign. Subsequent efforts failed to capture the magic of his '93 breakout, although 2001's The Tribute Sessions is compelling. It contains one of my all-time favorite cover songs, an ethereal take on The Band's It Makes No Difference.

Simien is a good looking guy who sings like Aaron Neville. He plays pop music disguised as zydeco. Even with an accordian and washboard-fronted band, he's as much a reggae, funk and soul artist as he is a zydeco musician. His sound is equal parts War, Bob Marley and Clifton Chenier. And as the photo illustrates, even kids are drawn to him.

Louisiana artists like Marcia Ball and Chubby Carrier have managed to achieve the success that has eluded Simien. Perhaps he's considered too commercial by fans of roots music, which would be an ironic dilemma, as he's woefully obscure outside of his home state. A more likely explanation is that his career has been bungled by mismanagement and poor business decisions.

Based on his strong performance Sunday night, however, it's not too late for Simien to get back on track. People just need to hear him.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bastion of Barbecue

Winslow's City Market Barbecue, often overlooked on list's of Kansas City's top barbecue joints, served up this delicious plate Sunday night. That's corn casserole next to the beans. The ideally smoked ribs were tender, with lots of meat. The lack of a distinctive sauce is the only key barbecue element Winslow's lacks, but with ribs this good, it's hardly missed.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Swelter and Swing

A community jazz band performed in the broiling heat Friday night at a neighborhood park in Prairie Village.

Friday, July 22, 2005

A For Aviary

How long will this bird nest stand?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Kick Me

Don’t Worry, Be Happy? That’s what we’re left with after ninety minutes of Major League Soccer?

While I realized the league was plagued with ties, I was still startled when play ended with the score tied at one, and the stadium announcer immediately said, "Thanks for supporting The Kansas City Wizards. Good night." And Bobby McFerrin's novelty hit echoed throughout the stadium.

The future of the franchise is unclear; they will likely move from Kansas City after the season. And with less than 5,000 people in attendance, it’s clear that the current arrangement is failing. It was so quiet that much of the time grunts and utterances by players were audible.

This scribe excepted, most of those present understood the game and knew the players. Kids, their soccer coaches, and displaced Europeans and Latin Americans were refined, appreciative spectators. (Most people didn't come dressed as the couple pictured.)

Sixteen-year-old pop culture star Freddy Adu started for DC United. He had moments of brilliance, but for the most part, he was outclassed by old men like Davy Arnaud and Scott Sealy. The top players are off participating in an international tournament. Still, the artful performances of the two teams was impressive.

But if this tie business can't be fixed, the Bobby McFerrin problem must be addressed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Beer and Cheese

St. Louis-style pizza and an extensive beer selection make Waldo Pizza my favorite pie palace in Kansas City.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Rodents, the kind undermining my home's
foundation and the human version undermining our nation's integrity, continue to disappoint me. At least the vermin pictured doesn't know any better.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tommy Castro

It's easy to mistake a musician’s audience for his music.

Kansas City loves the blooze- the rock-based, boogie-oriented music made as a soundtrack for sloppy beer-drinking and artless wooing of the opposite sex. Almost a thousand fans showed up for a free blooze show at the City Market Sunday night to partake of pointless guitar solos, a few refried classic rock songs, and exhortations to drink.

But Tommy Castro is a blues-man.

California-based Castro is a superior vocalist and tasteful guitarist. He has a genial stage presence, and as evidenced by the photo, women seem to appreciate his appearance. Although he's very talented, he's still a journeyman who pays tribute to his favorite music; he's not an innovator. He's proudly under the spell of masters like BB King.

This summer's Kansas City Blues Society concert series moved from midtown to the City Market. The big difference is that coolers are not allowed this year. Inexplicably, not all of the market's shops and restaurants are open, but a handful of food and drink vendors are on hand. And I guarantee that the operators of the beer concession are quite pleased. Elsewhere, savvy attendees claim a spot on the patio at Winslow’s Barbecue.

It's ridiculously hot, of course, but a hose is available to spray gleeful children and adults willing to dilute their sweat with cold tap water. And no doubt that hose came in handy in washing away the blooze fans' aftermath.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Millionth Muggle

The publishing industry estimates that over a million copies of the new Harry Potter book will be purchased today. I'm one of the happy lemmings.

Friday, July 15, 2005

That First Step Is a Doozy

If it’s the little things that give our lives meaning, award me the first prize ribbon now.

I cross the intersection pictured above several times a week. While idling at the stoplight last month, I noticed a finch building a nest in a tiny hole in this traffic fixture twenty feet above the street. The cavity is visible about two feet to the right of the street sign.

This week, I've taken an inordinate amount of pleasure spotting the bird delivering food to its progeny.

While I’m encouraged by its pluck, I'm concerned about the finch's ability to successfully communicate to its young that their first flights must be stellar, lest they splatter on the pavement below.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Two On Beam

It will never be Stanford. But Johnson County Community College is as attractive as at least half the college campuses I've surveyed. Its collection of outdoor art transforms the setting from just another cluster of red brick buildings into a stimulating environment. A work by Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz is pictured.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

It's For Personal Use Only

When they spotted the leafy vegetation planted in my backyard several weeks ago, a couple friends accused me of cultivating an illegal substance. Now that the hibiscus is flowering maybe they’ll quit offering to buy my crop.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Nebraska Petroglyph

It's well worth the twenty minute detour off I-29 near the Missouri-Nebraska border to tour The Indian Cave State Park. The highlight is a striking limestone formation with Native American petroglyphs carved between 1,500 to 1,800 years ago. Unfortunately, they're hard to spot, because more recent travelers have defaced the site. The contrast between the beautiful, ancient works and the contemporary scrawling of crudely scratched names and profanities speaks for itself.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Omaha On Purpose

The American Airlines flight crew blearily held the elevator door for us at eleven on Friday night.

"What brings you to Omaha?" a pilot asked. "You’re only here because you have to be, right?" As a matter of fact, we spent a weekend in Omaha by choice. And I’d do it again. I’m not ready to move to Nebraska, but there’s enough going on there that I wouldn’t dismiss the idea outright.

We wheeled our trip around Omaha’s Shakespeare On the Green, which featured both the challenging Pericles and more common Othello. Remarkably, neither play has been performed at Kansas City’s Shakespeare festival.

I didn’t see any signs, but it must have been Rednecks and Rubes night at Othello on Friday night. I sensed trouble when almost a quarter of the crowd brought their hounds to the play. It looked and sounded more like a coon hunt than a theater. We were awash in barking, yipping and snarling dogs. What compelled people to bring their pets to a three-hour drama- and why the festival would allow it- is beyond me. Other festival goers behaved as Kenny Chesney was on stage, whoopin' and a'hollerin' throughout the evening.

Similar boorish behavior followed us around Omaha. An inordinate amount of people were rude and ill-mannered. It was so bad that the angry, loud-mouthed New Yorker we sat next to at the first-rate Zio's Pizzeria, was one of the more pleasant people we met on our trip. Most obnoxious were the staggering number of barbarians who sneezed without covering their facial orifices, seeming to intentionally spray their germs of ignorance at passerby. Maybe it’s an Omaha thing.

Thankfully, the audience for Saturday’s Pericles was more refined. The actors were good-Megan Ann Bartle playing the distressed Marina made a special impression on me- and the modest production was solid, although the script was stripped of the play’s most severe elements, including the entire first act. While decent, Omaha’s production is not nearly of the quality we have in Kansas City. And the setting next to a roaring power plant isn’t as nice, either.

The Henry Doorly Zoo, on the other hand, shames Kansas City’s walk-a-thon equivalent. The aquarium, highlighted by sharks and penguins is great, but the desert dome (pictured) is spectacular. I loved the hummingbirds and bats, as well as the faux-swamp below the building, which features alligators and beavers splashing underneath the walkways.

Similarly, Omaha’s Old Market is superior to KC’s Westport in terms of size, drinking establishments and eateries. And within walking distance is the new 14,000-seat Qwest Center, which is hosting Paul McCartney and Neil Diamond this summer. Both acts bypassed KC this year. If that's not enough diversion, five minutes in a car gets you to a sort of casino alley, a refreshing change from KC’s far flung dens of sin.

Guaranteed good times are to be had at Rosenblatt Stadium, home of the AAA Royals and of the College Baseball World Series. The quality of play at Sunday’s game against The Ranger’s farm team was almost equivalent to what’s at bat at Kauffman Stadium. In fact, this season, my wallet and I would prefer attending Omaha Royals games. And perhaps best of all is the difference in temperature. It's only a few degrees cooler in Omaha, but somehow its summer heat is less oppressive.

Kansas Citians with an interest in our recent construction boom and related urban planning activity might find the three-hour drive north on I-29 instructive. Pound-for-pound and block-for-block, Omaha may be the superior city. Its residents just need to be introduced to Kleenex.

Friday, July 08, 2005


I don't know if I'm Mr. McGregor or Elmer Fudd.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Monday School

I have mixed feelings about the Kansas school funding crisis being averted for 2005-06. In yesterday’s special session, legislators allocated the additional money mandated by the state Supreme Court. Public schools will open on time in a few weeks.

Anticipating a lockout, I’d done some initial research into registering as a home school. It seems as if claiming religious exemption is the easiest way- certainly it’s the path of least resistance- to receive official home school accreditation from the state.

And man, that appears to be one wacky evangelical-riddled underworld. I had even convinced myself that swapping teaching tips with all stripes of fundamentalists would spell good times.

So I have another year- until the next inevitable funding crisis- to organize the Church of Happy In Bag Home School.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Dead Air: A Case For Silencing the Music At KKFI

Could there be hope for better music programming on KKFI? This morning, I heard a DJ named Mark Manning play a vast range of outstanding local artists. It sounded like a beautiful miracle.

Born of idealism, a principle of community activism, and leftist politics, Kansas City’s community radio station KKFI was founded with the best of intentions. But good intentions don't necessarily make for good radio. The station is regularly embroiled in political infighting. And with a few notable exceptions, its music programming remains unimaginative and second-rate.

I heard something last week that represented everything that's wrong with the musical choices made at 90.1 FM. A certain on-air personality has been one of the few constants at the station. She now hosts a show that airs several times a week. I have no doubt that she’s a very nice person; she’s not a snob like me, anyway. She’s almost certainly volunteering her time and energy, and due the station's many inefficiencies, she probably provides much of the music she airs from her own collection. On Friday morning, after playing, of all things, a song by John Mayer, the jock said something like, "Up next is a song from a new CD by someone named Frank Black. Maybe he’s been around, but I’ve never heard of him."

Oh my.

It’s not a crime to be unaware that Frank Black is the primary voice of The Pixies, one of the most important and popular rock bands of the last twenty years. Nor is everyone familiar with Black’s eleven solo albums. Even so, local media coverage alone includes The Star's Tim Finn, an outspoken champion of Black’s work. Finn named the Pixies concert at the Uptown Theater as the best show of 2004. KCUR’s Robert Moore featured the new Black release on his fine Sonic Spectrum show only last week.

It's troubling- but not surprising- that one of the station’s few regular music DJs missed all this. Entire musical revolutions, local and global, have come and gone while KKFI remained entirely oblivious to them. Among the other innumerable examples I could cite is one of Kansas City’s biggest musical exports, The Get Up Kids. In the past decade, the band formed, became international stars, and dissolved. Yet KKFI listeners would never have known they existed. The same is true for the roster of Omaha’s Saddle Creek Records, the underground hip-hop movement, and a myriad of other musical flavors that have broken into the mainstream in recent years. Not only did KKFI fail to expose and share in the success of these new art forms and artists, it missed the opportunity to gain the attendant audience that such promotion would have allowed.

To be fair, KKFI's blues programmers have connected to a meaningful local audience and have contributed to that music's popularity. Consistent with these efforts, they've organized a benefit blues show at Knuckleheads on August 20. But as a whole, the station’s music programming has been, and continues to be, largely irrelevant.

Perhaps it’s foolish to even care. Many radio stations with mission statements similar to KKFI, such as St. Louis' KDHX, have become important online broadasters. Competing download services such as EMusic and Rhapsody allow provide virtually every note ever recorded for a negligible monthly rental fee. Podcasts and MP3 blogs multiple daily. Offline, it’s clear that satellite radio will eventually trounce commercial radio among music fans. And we're in the midst of the Ipod revolution. These new technologies threaten to make KKFI completely obsolete.

Still, there's hope. The mere fact that KKFI's DJ somehow received and aired a Frank Black CD is a positive sign. And as I write, jazz DJ "Dr. Mike" is playing the free jazz master Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Listeners did have to first endure Dr. Mike giggling with a representative from a humane society about a dog shelter for fifteen embarrassing minutes, though.

I propose three options that would benefit KKFI and the Kansas City community. The least disruptive choice is to hire someone like KCUR's Robert Moore- or, based on what I heard today, Mark Manning- and allow him to give the station an upgraded musical voice. I’d hope that he’d install an integrated mix in which local artists like bluesman D.C. Bellamy, Astralwork’s Golden Republic, hip hopper Approach, Latin act Trio Atzlan, jazzer Mike Metheny, and indie rockers Doris Henson might be heard together in any given hour. An emphasis on local music and local events is essential to making the station meaningful.

A second possibility is to completely replace all music content with Spanish-language programming. It's an under-served market, and I sense that enough money would pour in from appreciative new listeners to support the remaining English-language special-interest shows. Otherwise, the station should consider abandoning music entirely and offer nothing but public affairs programming. There are plenty of unions, transgender groups, Native Americans, New Agers and left-wingers eager to fill the airwaves with their greivances and agendas.

Until then, the beat goes on. Unless you’re listening to KKFI.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Brewer & Shipley

It’s perversely apt that ‘70s folk act Brewer & Shipley entertained a small Fourth of July crowd on the lawn of the Prairie Village, KS, police department headquarters.

Near a petting zoo, inflatable moonwalks and a display in which police allowed curious kids to handle their handguns and rifles, the regionally-based duo joked on stage about nickel bags and their aging constituency. Many of Brewer & Shipley’s core audience, also now in their ‘50s, live in this interior Kansas City suburb.

After their biggest hit, the drug anthem One Toke Over the Line, received a warm ovation, one said, "I wondered where all the hippies went. They live in Prairie Village now." His partner retorted, "Yeah, they’re Stepford hippies."

Thirty years after their glory days, they continue to sound just as lively and engaging as their old records. They’re still so groovy that as I listened to them I found myself ruminating about how beautiful the green leaves were as they gently waved against the blue sky. It was that far out. Sure, the folk music spoof A Mighty Wind targets Brewer & Shipley and their ilk. For better or worse, they exemplify the folkie sincerity that’s so easy to mock today. On a gorgeous holiday afternoon, however, their harmonious sound couldn’t be more charming.

Furthermore, the carefree anthem Witchi-Tai-To sounds incredibly fresh today. I’m convinced it’s an ideal anchor song for a Honda or Microsoft television campaign. And the world would be a better place for it... man.

Driveways of Shame

Among the infinite freedoms allowed Americans is the right to be a selfish boor.

And that’s how I characterize most owners of SUVs. Unless you’re driving car pool for Catholic school, hauling cattle feed across your farm’s fields, or engaging in some other essential task that contributes to the common good of our great land, your gluttonous choice is inexcusable.

I hold these truths to be self-evident. SUVs are safety hazards, make driving difficult for others, and spoil the environment, all while increasing our nation’s oil dependency. Slapping a magnetic I Support Our Troops ribbon on your gas guzzler doesn’t make you any less un-American or anti-Earth.

Almost half the vehicles in my neighborhood are SUVs. Pictured is a typical driveway scene.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Floral Fireworks

The days of bottlerocket battles are behind me. All ten fingers, slightly scarred and charred, are intact. This flower, on a backyard bush that had been dormant for years, is my idea of fireworks now.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Quicksnap Podcast

My colleagues and I recorded the fortieth Quicksnap podcast yesterday.

We discussed today’s Live 8 events, the impact of the Supreme Court's MGM v. Grokster decision, the debatable value of college radio promotion, recent developments at the Handleman and Best Buy accounts, and other music industry news. In what may be a first, this show is free of profanity, even though tempers, as usual, flared.

Our show is geared toward industry insiders, but all are welcome to download or stream our podcasts. All forty shows are available at

Quicksnap’s supersonic Acme-brand mixing board is pictured.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Bettie Serveert

Bettie Serveert never moved me.

The Dutch band always sounded fine and Carol van Dijk, the lead singer, is striking. Hipsters adored them, and their first three domestic releases were issued on Matador, usually a good barometer of quality.

Still, I never got it. The production didn’t feel right. I just wasn’t looking an edgier version of The Cardigans, or an overproduced Pretenders. Bettie Serveert is now touring behind, Attagirl, a January ‘05 release on Minty Fresh. And I don’t like it, either.

You can’t accuse them of being lazy. The band is doing retail in-stores in markets adjacent to their tour dates. So they stopped at Kief’s in Lawrence, KS, June 30, before their Kansas City date at the Grand Emporium later that evening. As you can see from the photo, the store’s shotgun-layout doesn’t lend itself to in-stores. Even if you’re standing four people back, your view is obstructed.

About two dozen fans heard an entirely different version of Bettie Serveert play at Kief’s. Van Dijk and a guitarist did the solo acoustic thing, and the sounds they made were beautiful and affecting. Van Dijk voice is spectacularly nuanced and filled with emotional resonance, a virtue the band’s recordings fail to capture.

I cheer for Attagirl to succeed for Bettie Serveert. If they’re disappointed in the fruits of their hard work, however, a backup plan is obvious. They should retool as a sophisticated easy listening band, along the lines of The Kings of Convenience and the Trashcan Sinatras. Making soft rock for the lounge crowd is a new cottage industry. Bettie Serveert could own that market.

Sky On Fire

Thursday's lightning storm and ominously tinted sky evoked the new War of the Worlds movie trailer. (As with all Happy In Bag images, this photograph is neither enhanced or artificially manipulated.)